Four color sketches of what was blooming in May and June during our strict Stay at Home phase in the New York City metropolitan area. I bring back leaves and blooms from my daily walks, or from my garden, to draw in my studio. These were sketched in pencil, then watercolor or watercolor pencil added next, and sometimes they were inked as the last step. I love seeing video demonstrations of nature journalists sketching outside with their portable camp stools and tiny sketching kits, but the comfort of my small indoor studio is so tempting. Now that the sticky, hot northeastern USA summer is here, my air conditioner is also very tempting. Maybe plain air painting is in my future, but not the near future, I suspect.
I have been drawing nature finds and things growing in my garden for quite a while in the Before Times or BC, Before Corona virus. I think of my style as not very precise botanical drawings. So I kept drawing things from the natural world in my Pandemic Sketchbook, things I spotted on my daily walks when the lockdown was very strict here in the New York metropolitan area. Everyone was walking and walking in the neighborhood, partly because everything was closed and sitting at home was making people stir crazy, I suspect. Leaving my sketchbook aside when I found several pieces of blue card stock in a file cabinet, I drew some flowers and a visiting House Finch with watercolor pencils on the blue background. The paper could take a little bit of water with a small brush and some blending with a tortillon . I also realized I can wet the point of the pencil to get texture. After three drawings, I ran out of this color and moved on to something else. I’ve been trying different styles and techniques in my sketchbook and trying to use up the supplies I have in my studio rather than succumb to Pandemic online shopping syndrome. I see Amazon boxes piled on every door step on my daily walks. Now there’s a topic: delivery man carrying a teetering pile of boxes! It’s hot and humid summer now so people are back indoors in the air conditioning. Shops and things are opening up and traffic is increasing, and my extremely Blue Period is over for now. Let’s hope it doesn’t have a resurgence. (Metaphor alert there…)
The robins in my yard are very friendly and not shy of humans. A rather plump robin visits me every day, or maybe he just likes the well-stocked buffet of earthworms in my backyard. We often have lunch together…or at least at the same time. I chat with him (her?) and he seems to pause to consider.
With people sheltering in place at home, something had to take the place of going out to socialize, eat, work, work out and other daily activities. Cooking, doing jigsaw puzzles and gardening became really popular. I’m a terrible baker because I don’t follow directions. When I made scones, the flour in my cupboard smelled funny, so I texted a friend who said to throw it out. After digging deeper in my baking supplies, I found a small bag of flour, so I made a small batch of scones. They tasted bland and were hard, so I painted a still life of the scones in the style of a Mexican bark painting that hangs in my studio.
When the weather warmed up, I cleaned up my garden to get ready for spring planting. It has been a cold, but beautiful spring in New Jersey, but the herbs seemed to be growing already in early April.
Puzzles are really in demand. Luckily I found two in my coat closet. It turns out, I’m not a very patient puzzle person, so again, I drew the picture instead of sorting the pieces the first day. A month after this painting, the puzzle is only half done!
In the first month of staying at home, I read that people were putting teddy bears in their windows so that parents could take their kids on scavenger hunts to search for teddy bears. I don’t know if anyone was doing that or not in my neighborhood, but it kept me busy. I posed the bears and drew pictures of them in my sketchbook. It quickly became apparent that keeping busy and distracted, to find a hobby or any way at all to cope is pretty important. For young parents trying to work at home and educate and take care of their kids, it’s a big job.